Thursday, 8 October 2009

It can get cold in the Central Australian desert, so pack some warm clothes just in case

It can get cold in the desert in October. Especially when you're sleeping in a swag around an extinguished campfire.

A swag is sort of a cross between a sleeping bag and a tent. In the famous Australian poem/bush ballad Waltzing Matilda the main character is a jolly swagman, an itinerant chap who carries his bed rolled up on his back.

After sleeping in a swag I can't understand how he could be so bloody 'jolly'. But I don't suppose it would work if the poem went: 'Once a grumpy, sleep-deprived swagman, with a bad back and frostbitten toes, camped by a billabong...'

The modern swag has a foam underlay and you can slip a sleeping bag inside it. At 1am on the first night of the tour at a permanant campsite at Yulara campground, not far from Uluru, I awoke in the feotal position. I had somehow burrowed into the middle of the swag, but this didn't stop the cold night air from creeping into my lair.

It was freezing. I'd estimate it was around 4 degrees Celsius. Geez, I felt my age as I staggered off to the bathroom several hours later. By day 4, I didn't bother looking in the mirror!

But my point is I hadn't packed enough warm clothes and nor had Precious Princess, who threw in skimpy Pammy Anderson shorts and light cotton sleeveless tops. Brrr...

The weather during the day varied from cold with a strong wind-chill factor (at Uluru for the sunrise and sunset viewings) to hot (walking through the Valley of the Palms on the last day of the tour).

It even rained on the first day, not a lot, but enough to cause puddles at the roadhouse where we stopped for morning tea. Rain in a place that averages an annual 230 millimetres and has fewer than 40 days of rain per year.

Back on the road in the warmth of the 4WD...

After seeing Uluru, I thought that nothing could top it. But over the next few days we visited the spectacular Kata Tjuta (formerly known as the Olgas), Kings Canyon, Ormiston Gorge and the Valley of the Palms.

Coming up in the next blog... beer and camel sausages with our legend tour guide BENNO. Could life get any better than this? Mmm... maybe in Byron! (pics of a cloudy Uluru and PP in skimpy gear collecting firewood for campfire)

No comments: